Asia - tropical

Moraceae, Artocarpus lakoocha, Monkey jack, Lakoocha, Emerald Jack, Pachoo Phanas (Bangalore), Badahar (Guyana), Selengking (Borneo)

This is the ripe orange bumpy fruit. I was unable to identify it for a long time, just recently found it in a book called  Fruits and Cultivated Exotics that I found at Fairchild Botanical Garden. The taste and texture are very interesting. Taste is tangy and slightly citrus-like. The texture is like that of unripe jackfruit only finer fibers, as a visitor to the site pointed out (see comments), similar to kiwi. I germinated a bunch of seed about five months ago. The small trees are just now about to surpass me in height. Supposedly the tree yields an excellent hardwood, said to be superior to Teak, useful for toolhandles and construction both above and below water. The trees I saw were not cultivated as a hardwood.

This photo was taken a month after transplanting the germinated seedlings, they are growing quickly. I'll take some up-to-date photos to upload today.

Rhamnaceae, Zizyphus mauritiana, Indian Jujube

Jujube is one of the five primary fruits in China, having been cultivated thereabouts for 4,000 some odd years, probably longer.  The fruit is very common in parts of Asia, and increasingly so in the Medeterranian. The tree is best adapted to dry tropical climates and can be found throughout the tropics, although it is not very common outside of Asia. 

The tree can reach 12 meters in height, although most of the ones I've encountered, propagated by approach grafting, are smaller, sprawling shrubs. In dry, colder areas the tree doesn't typically surpass 4 meters in height. 

The Indian Jujube (Z. mauritania) and the Chinese Jujube (Z. jujuba) can be distinguished by the underside of the leaves. The underside of the Indian jujube leaves is covered with an almost cream colored fuzz. The fruit is usually the shape and size of a olive, although improved Chinese varieties can be larger than 6 cm in length. Each fruit contains a stone with two seeds. 

The Jujube can be consumed in numerous ways: ripe or unripe, cooked, in sweets and jams, breads, cheeses, and a butter is prepared with the pulp. Juices are also made. In order to dry the fruits, one must wait until the process is initiated on the tree, the fruit ripens, becomes soft and then dries. The soft fruit has a higher concentration of sugars. Dried fruits are common, and can be conserved and consumed like raisins. 

The wood is very strong, often used to make agricultural implements, also used to make a top quality charcol. The tree is commonly used as a living fence and windbreak in arid regions. Leaves are used as food for silkworms. The bark is used for tanning. The leaves and fruit are an excellent animal forage. 

There are numerous superior grafted varieties of Chinese Jujube, including Lang, Li, Sui Men, Mu Shing hong, and Yu. There are over 125 known varieties of Indian Jujube in India, including "Gola", "Safeda", "Banarsi", and "Haichi". 

High quality fruits contain up to 21% sugar, 1.5% protein, and are rich in calcium, fosforo and vitamin C.

The trees can be propagated by seed, approach grafting, cuttings and air layer. 

Oxalidaceae, Averrhoa carambola, grafted Carambola (starfruit) flowers and young fruit

The Starfruit is from Malaysia and Indonesia, now common throughout tropical Asia and the neo-tropics. Most of the world’s commercial cultivation occurs in Brazil, the West Indies, and Malaysia.

The tree is small, usually no larger then 12 m high. We grow grafted varieties in Panama that begin to bear fruit when just a few feet tall. Grafted trees can be managed at four meters and, in favorable conditions, bear so much fruit the branches will break if they aren’t harvested.

The fruit, as the name would suggest, is shaped like a star. There are multiple varieties of Starfruit, both sweet and sour. Sweet varieties tend to be lighter in color and smaller, about five inches long and three inches wide. Sour varieties are larger and more orange in color.

Starfruit is especially rich in Vitamins A, B, C, phosphorus and calcium. The vitamin C content is comparable to that of an orange. Each fruit contains between 8 – 10 % sugar.

In addition to the fruit, both the flower and leaf are edible. I have two Taiwanese varieties. Very compact, heavily bearing trees. I'm trying them on balconies in large pots.

Syzygium jambos - Rose Apple


Originally from Southeast Asia (East India and Malaya) the Rose Apple has been introduced into tropical regions around the world. It is very common in the Caribbean, brought by English colonizers. Apparently it is being grown in the San Francisco area of N. California. The tree grows with a broad, dense canopy, usually relatively small (5 m), but can reach heights of 20 m. The leaves are long and thin.

The name Rose Apple comes from the scent of the flowers and the taste of the fruit, both of which strongly resemble roses, or rose water. The fruit is round, 3 -5 centimeters in diameter and yellow in color, typically eaten raw, but also used in jellies due to the high pectin content. The fruit contains up to 11% sugar and is considered to be a good source of calcium, iron (2 mg/100 g) and niacin (1.1 mg/100 g).

This species makes a great windbreak due to its low, dense growth habit.


The tree is often wider then it is tall, makes a spectacular ornamental tree, but needs ample space and sun. Although it is somewhat cold hardy, it should be protected from frosts.

Ebenaceae, Diospyros blancoi, velvet apple, mabolo

Mabolo, or velvet apple is an attractive tree, closely related to the persimmon and ebony.

As the English common name would suggest, the fruit is covered in a fine, velvety skin, usually reddish brown. Inside is a soft, creamy flesh with a unique taste and aroma. The species is native to the Philippines where the tree is referred to as kamagong. It is strictly a tropical tree, drought tolerant growing well in a wide variety of soils, from sea level to 2,400 feet. Planted from the seed the tree can take up to six years to bear fruit. Trees propagated from cuttings produce fruit in three to four years.